Thursday, March 31, 2011

Do You Want Some Whine With That Cheese - A Sentimental Repost

 Hey guys, I'm re-posting this (from two years ago...yikes), because I'm in the hospital today with my little guy (nothing serious, just some easy surgery stuffs). 

So, this week, I was really whiny. Not just to friends and family, but to a few strangers as well. (Hey, if you’re that kid at the movie popcorn stand, I am really sorry for spilling out my life in front of you – I owe you big man... I owe you big).

Maybe it was because of the snow that assaulted my house (didn’t that porcupine say it was spring?). Or maybe it was because this week was Parent Teacher Conference and I spent a billion dollars at the book fair (now I know why they schedule the book fair at the same time as P.T.C. - Conspiracy). But I think I was whiny mostly because of daylight savings.

So yes, I whined. Whined about getting older, whined about my shoes smelling like moldy cupcake frosting, and whined about getting dinner on the table (why do we have to eat so many times during the day? Can’t they make a pill for that?) (Oh, maybe they do. I think it’s called a diet pill.)

Anyway, I have had my fill of whine; I am ready for the good stuff. So, I’m taking action! I’m starting a new writing project, I’m watching what I eat, and I’m washing my tennis shoes!  They have a cool drying rack for that ... I’ve been told. (Hey, I did all three of those things...SWEET! But I'm pretty sure I tossed those shoes.)

And next time you come to my door, I’m going to talk your ear off, even if you are trying to get me to buy your new windows with the extra layer of warmth. Yes, you will be begging to get away from my house (and will be warning others of the crazy woman down the street).

So world, beware. I’m on the prowl!

There will be no need for that cheese anymore. I’m throwing that cheese into a great casserole with macaroni (and little cornflakes on top). Ah, the world is looking better already!

Have a great week guys!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No Contest or is there?

As April nears, I wonder what I can do to make a difference. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. Since writing Some Secrets Hurt, a book designed to prevent sexual abuse, I have found myself passionately involved in fighting child abuse of every kind. It’s an uphill road, especially with sexual abuse. Hardly anyone wants to talk about sexual abuse, at least not publicly. In private people will talk. I have heard many sad stories. Everyone has a story.

But publicly things are different. Many people want to look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening here. I encounter lots of roadblocks. I have a wonderful presentation for schools, but schools are very hesitant to open that can of worms. I have written some great articles. People have promised to publish them and then get cold feet and give me some lame excuse. It is discouraging.

My dream is to create a safer world for children everywhere. To do that, we need to start talking about sexual abuse. We need to be more open and give children and teenagers knowledge and tools to take control of their own bodies. This is the reason I wrote Some Secrets Hurt—to open the door to communication. I would love to see Some Secrets Hurt in the hands of families and children around the world.

Spreading the word is challenging, because it is a difficult subject. When I mention sexual abuse, some people feel threatened, others don’t understand the danger. For many, though, the danger is very real, because they have lived the nightmare. I do presentations and write articles to fill in the gaps between the limited promotion my publisher is able to do and what I feel needs to be done. At times it feels like I am fighting a losing battle. I can’t give up. This battle is too important. It’s not about book sales, it’s about children.

Please consider what you might do during the month of April to prevent child abuse. Your suggestions are welcome. I would love to hear what you have to say about preventing abuse.

I have considered hosting a contest which would encourage you to do some helpful things. I have received mixed reviews on my contest idea. Some of my author friends think contests are effective, other think not. I would love to know how you feel about it.

Do you like contests? Would you like to make a difference? How passionate are you about preventing sexual abuse? If I host a contest, are you likely to participate?

Linda Garner


Monday, March 28, 2011

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

I have a dear friend whose wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. As he is sobbing his story out to me, I feel a heaviness of heart. This lady is a wonderful individual–fun, happy, upbeat, a great artist, supportive of her husband. In short, she’s a good person. How sad that this couple is faced with a heart-ache like this.
So, as we’re talking, I’m thinking of several other friends who have had breast cancer that is in remission now. The prognosis is good. But that’s still doesn’t take away the surgeries she’ll go through and all the medical treatment that she’ll probably have. In short, it’s a life-consuming, painful, scary process.
We continue to talk about this life-and-death situation, and I’m saddened. What can I do to support this couple? First, I can let them know my faith and prayers are with them through this trial. I can be there to listen when either of them needs to talk. I can take send flowers and take in meals. We can talk about community resources, like a run for cancer. But I feel helpless to give them real support. What can I really do?
I’m sure there are those of you who have been through a devastating trial like this. Give me some suggestions of ways I can be supportive. I’m open to your advice.
Thanks for listening. I’m just very sad today.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writing, Life, and Spilling Stuffs

Okay, first you should know that I'm writing this blog post this my sweats and running shoes...without my makeup on (sorry about that). But I've had something on my mind for a few weeks.

You see, when I started blogging, I went to blogs that talked about writing (because writing is awesome--Oh, and you should know that I'm a little behind this week...again, sorry).

As I learned more about the craft, I started going to bloggers who talked about life. (Because even though writing is awesome...I wanted to interact with people who were people...does that make sense? I did tell you it was really early right?)

Now I read both (because they both rock).

Since I'm almost through school and seeing my writing improve, I want to improve my own blog. (You know add stuffs to the side, maybe add some writing ideas, spend more time checking out other blogger's blog - after that final...I guess I should get that done first). I really want to start to give back.

So I guess what I'm asking is...what do you like in a blog?  What do you read? How do you give back?  (You'd think I would know this by now.) 

So...spill it! What do you do? What do you like?

Okay. I'm off to run...or go back to sleep.  (The running shoes and sweats have me all confused.) Maybe I'll just blog instead. Have a great week guys!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

I love school visits.

Yesterday, Friend-husband invited me to help him teach some writing classes. Friend-husband is a retired elementary school teacher. He does some part time work at the school where he used to teach. Yesterday, he was teaching some writing classes to free up teachers for meetings. He was asked to teach about the writer’s voice. Voice may be my favorite writing topic. Why? Because you can talk about almost any subject if you do it in a character’s voice.

I like to think of voice as the storyteller. Having a great story is not enough. You also need a great storyteller. You need a strong voice. Voice gives the piece personality, uniqueness, and emotion. To understand voice, open any book and read just a few paragraphs. Who is the storyteller? After reading a few paragraphs do you have a sense of the storyteller’s personality? Does the storyteller have unique qualities? Are you aware of their thoughts and feelings?

Put another way, voice is the door into the character’s head. In good writing you can you get inside a character’s head and get a sense of what makes them tick? You see things from their point of view.

After Friend-husband and I discussed voice with the kids, I read them a few paragraphs from my story Grudge Rock. In Grudge Rock, Walker is upset at Jake for tripping him in a basketball game at recess. We invited the students to rewrite the beginning of the story in Jake’s voice. Here are a couple of examples. First is my story, in Walker’s voice.

Jake’s legs got tangled up with mine and I went flying. I could have scored. Jake grabbed the basketball as it popped out of my arms. He did a fancy shot and swish, just as the bell rang. I scraped my knee. It hurt like crazy. I picked a pebble out of my raw skin and stuck it in my pocket. Everyone cheered for Jake and headed back to class. No one noticed me sprawled on the blacktop holding my knee. 

I thought about my knee all afternoon. I even dreamed about it at night. The pebble was back in my pocket when I limped out the front door and headed for school.
Jake and Chris were talking in front of the school. Jake used to walk with me, but not today. Jake used to be my friend, but not any more. I didn’t want to talk, so I slipped in the side door, and stuck my tongue out at them when they weren’t looking.

Here are some examples of Jake’s voice as written by the students. The first group are sixth graders.

I grabbed the ball and won the game. Chris asked me to walk him to school. I was a hero. I don’t know why but Walker was grumpy all day. I tried to talk to him but he just walked by.

At recess today I was playing basketball with my best friend, Walker. Then when we were about to score we tripped and the ball came flying out of his hands. I caught the ball, did an amazing shot and scored at the last second to win the game. Everyone cheered and Walker was on the ground and nobody noticed but me. WaLker was tough but he stayed down. We had to hurry to class so I left him.

My legs got tangled up with Walker’s. Walker fell and the ball popped out of his hands. Luckily, I caught it! I did one of my best tricks and…BOOM! I made an awesome basket right when the bell rang! Everyone cheered for me! Walker ignored me and limped the rest of the day, and I don’t know why.

Today I was playing basketball. I saw that Walker was going to score a basket so I tripped him and got the ball and shot it in. I’ve always hated that loser, Walker. When we were going back to class I noticed Walker on the ground, but I thought he could get up on his own. The next day, I walked with Chris instead of Walker because I would look bad being by him. He was my friend till he tried to steal my glory. When we were at school I noticed that he stuck his tongue at me so when he wasn’t watching I stuck my tongue at him.

Walker ran right into me. We both fell to the ground but I got right up again. As Walker was laying on the ground I got the ball from him and did a few allstar moves and swoosh, the ball went right in! Everyone cheered for me. It was like I was a celebrity for the rest of the day. The next morning I got up and walked outside. I looked around for Walker, but he wasn’t there. So I walked to school with Chris. We talked about school, then I saw Walker jog by. I told Chris that I wanted to talk to him, but Chris told me not to go. I felt bad but I didn’t see him again. It was like he was avoiding me. Oh well.

Here are some examples from the fourth grade.

I got my legs tangled up with this other kid. The ball popped out of his arms. I reach out, grab it, and do my fancy double dribble shot. If I was a millimeter off I wouldn’t have made it. The bell rang as I made the winning shot. As we walked back to class everyone was cheering for me. They put me up on their shoulders. I was so popular…

My legs got tangled up with Walker’s. As the basketball popped out of his arms I grabbed it. I did a fancy shot and right as the bell range, swoosh it went through the hoop. My whole team cheered for me. When we walked back to class I noticed that Walkers wasn’t there… I wish I had caught Walker and said sorry.

I was right by my friend, Walker playing basketball. I’m the one who should have had the ball. I pushed Walker away and did a fancy shot for my girlfriend Jaimeo. Then the bell rang. My ball went in. I scored the winning shot! Then everyone crowded around me and I couldn’t see Walker. I hope I didn’t hurt him…

Today my legs got tangled with my friend as he shot. I twisted and turned and made an amazing shot, right as the buzzer happened. I broke up with my friend Walker and didn’t walk with him to school. I would sneakily peek behind me and just barely see Walker stick his tongue back in his mouth.

We forgot to collect the papers from the fifth grade, but they were just as fun. If you have questions about voice, maybe you could ask your kids.

And by the way, Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

Linda Garner

Monday, March 21, 2011

Empathy for People Experiencing Sorrow

My life is very comfortable. I have a warm place to live. I got up this morning and turned the heat up to just exactly where I like it. My husband fixed a delicious breakfast. I have enjoyed my reading and feel peaceful from the meditation I do each morning.
I look around outside at the new sprouts of green grass and beginning buds on the trees, and I know that life is renewing itself. From my deck, the sky is a glorious thing to behold. Sometimes, as the sun sets, mixtures of pink, blue and purple blend themselves into a magnificent display of colors, and the world feels right.
My world is orderly and good. But what about those whose lives have been turned upside down in the last few days? What can I do for them? My prayers are with them. Every time I get a drink of water, I am grateful. How many of them will become ill from contaminated water? I am thankful for my bed. I know there are many who don’t have the comforts of home right now.
But are my gratitude and prayers enough? I will also donate through my church to help the humanitarian effort, but I can’t take away the sorrows and pains of others. I can’t relieve their sufferings. Even at home I can’t do that. I can listen and show empathy for those around me, but I can’t reach those so far away.
So what else can I do? I can add love to the world around me. I can sit with my 97-year-old neighbor to show her I care. I can comfort a child with a skinned knee. I can invite those around me to the peace I feel each day by listening and sharing with them. I can pray for myself and others to find wisdom from the things we all suffer. In short, I can add light to the world.
What can you do to add light to the world?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Feelings those Feelings of Feeling

First, My heart goes out to those in Japan (my brother had the privilege of  living there for a few years).Please check out your local humanitarian resources if you want to donate to help the people there. And make sure it's reputable. 

I've learned that being a writer, means you experience a vast field of feelings:

Depression (Why am I not getting anywhere?)

Jealousy (Seriously? Why am I not there?)

Happiness (...that your work has been noticed)

Love/Hate (for that perfect ms...which takes WAY too long to write)

Elation (YES! So and so got an agent! I know she's been trying so hard!) or (Yes! I found an agent!)

I have never experienced such a range of crazy emotions. Why didn't anyone warn me?

What are some of the crazy emotions you've dealt with?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Peace Within

There sure is a lot of trouble in the world. Finances are a mess in every country. We are getting use to the devastastion of war, earthquakes, and famine. The recent disaster in Japan has us wondering who will be next. We long for peace: World Peace, Peace in our government, Peace in our Homes, Peace in our Hearts.

A friend sent me this thought this morning and I felt it was worth sharing. I do not know who the author is.

"Today, may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith, in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself, just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Have a peaceful day.

Linda Garner

Monday, March 14, 2011

YESSSSSSSSSSS!!! I have a book contract!

YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!  I have a book contract!
I am very excited, if you couldn’t tell. I just received a book contract. I’ve been walking around on cloud nine for the last few days. I didn’t really believe that it would happen, and maybe I still don’t.
I had a great time celebrating with my family. We are all so happy. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by those who love you and are happy when you are happy.
But then reality set in. I had ten days to get marketing ideas, a cover blurb, a synopsis, study questions, pictures I wanted in the book and a bibliography – along with hard copies of the copyright page and the quoted page to the editor. They also wanted a hard copy of the manuscript and an electronic one. Oh, I forgot, my picture for the book jacket also.
I felt a huge relief to have that done, but I am still so jazzed I can hardly stand it. I’ve worked for years to get to this point. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family. They are wonderful. Also, my critique groups ‘kick me up the side of the head’ when I need it. I’d NEVER be to this point without them. (Plus, several of us have book contracts and we are soooooooooooo thrilled for each other)
Okay, here’s my message for the day: IF I CAN DO THIS, ANYONE CAN. I know from my writing groups that I’m not the most talented writer in the world. The thing that I am is a hard worker. If you work hard, you’ll get there, too. So, here’s to you and your success. May it be as great as mine!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Feeling Rebellious I tell ya!

I'm feeling a little rebellious this week.

Serious. I ate a whole bag of chocolate chips to prove it.

So I'm unplugging. Getting some of that treadmill loving in my life. Plus I have to prepare a lesson I'm giving this week and having a hard time finding any time.

Which brings me to lesson from LTUE.

Take time for yourself.

We writers seem to eat, sleep, and dream about our stories and characters. Sometimes it helps the creative process to take a break (or eat a bag of chocolate chips...).

So, I'm taking a break and hope to be better next week. What are your thoughts on breaking from writing for a while? Does it help you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Today is a wonderful day to celebrate. Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. How cool is that? Do something fun to celebrate, and be kind to all the beautiful women in your life.

In honor of the beautiful women in my life, I would love to share some inspirational videos with you. Here are the links. Enjoy. Think beautiful thoughts.

The Evolution of Beauty

Operation Beautiful

The One Flaw in Women

You are beautiful. Have a beautiful day.

Linda Garner

Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting Lost

Getting Lost
When you sit down to write, do you ever get lost in your manuscript? Well, I do. As you know from last week, sometimes I’m arguing with my main character. Other times I’m lost in the sensory aspects of the scene. I can feel the breeze in my face, smell the ocean, squish the sand beneath my feet, etc.
When the phone rings or something else pulls me from my reverie, it’s jarring for a minute. I have to remember where my place in the world is – what I’ve got to do. Does that irritate you? Well, it does me at times.
After I’ve had a stretch of ‘getting lost,’ I feel high – like a runner’s high. What a wonderful experience to be lost in your head. I love doing it.
Again, it comes back to that ‘crazy thing.’ Maybe I am really crazy. When I’m 101 years old and my grandkids come to see me, they’ll just say. “There’s grandma doing that crazy thing of hers again.”
It’s a great way to live, isn’t it? Wouldn’t change it for the world!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The First 13 Lines


One of the best classes I attended at LTUE was “Lucky 13” presented by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury (who…may I say, totally knows her stuff—she moderates the Hatrack River Writers Workshop and Orson Scott Card’s website—click here or here and even here).

She had five (very brave) writer’s share the first 13 lines of their work with the class. We then tore it apart. Just kidding! (Did I freak you out a little?) 

But we did analyze the lines.

Just the first 13…because that is all the chance you may have with an agent.

She asked:

Do you understand what is going on (what the story is about? What the character’s problem is?)

Do you care (I mean, really…who wants to read a story when we don’t care about the mc)?

Do you want to keep reading?

As we continued to listen to the five brave souls, I noticed that a great first line hook is every important to a book. Check out a few well written books from the library and just read the first line. (I just finished both Speak & Fahrenheit 451. Great first lines.) What do they promise the reader?

Plus, please no flashbacks or info dumps. That is guaranteed to turn off your reader. (I have a book on my shelf completely devoted to a fantastic info dump in its first chapter. I couldn’t tell you about the rest of the book, because I stopped reading. The info dump was that good.)

Also, please just get to the meat of the story. We need to know why you started where you did. What is different in your character’s life at this moment?  We don’t care about the sunny picnic, we want the picnic ruined with rain and the swarm of ants.

I’m sure there was more to the class, but these were the things that stood out to me. Do you have any other suggestion? 

What do you look for in  the first 13 lines?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Only a Crazy Person Would Write

I’ve decided. It’s insane to be a writer. Really. It takes over your life.

It keeps me from making my bed and getting the dishes done. I plan my life around critique groups and writers conferences. I check my email more often than I wash my hands. It’s crazy.

It changes the way I read. I can’t just enjoy a book. I analyze it. What was the author thinking when he wrote this? What makes this dialogue work? What clues did the author plant to help me solve the mystery, or throw me off the track. Why does this setting feel familiar? It’s nuts.

I’ll let you in a secret. The real reason I write is…. (drumroll, please) I write for the money. NOT. I hope you got a good laugh out of that one. After careful (not) calculations, I have discovered that I make about ten cents an hour. Or is it five cents an hour? It’s bizarre.

Why the heck do I write,then? Just because I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It's Unbelievable.

I am crazy. Crazy about words, crazy about writing, crazy about books. Crazy.

Don't you agree? Only a crazy person would write.

Linda Garner